London, 23 June 2015 — The Lancet, one of the world’s foremost medical journals, today published its 2015 Commission on Health and Climate Change: “Policy Responses to Protect Public Health”, 6 years after the publication of its landmark 2009 Lancet Commission report.

The central finding from the Commission is that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, and that the barriers to realising this are primarily political rather than economic or technical.

“Climate change is a medical emergency,” said Commission co-Chair Professor Hugh Montgomery, director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance. “It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now.”

The report’s policy recommendations include increasing health monitoring of climate-sensitive diseases, rapidly phasing-out coal from the global energy mix to protect cardiovascular and respiratory health, integrating the health impacts of national energy policies into decision-making processes, and redesigning cities to promote active travel and reduce urban air pollution.  Internationally, it argues for a strong deal at COP21 in Paris and argues the case for a strong and predictable international carbon pricing mechanism.

Lead author and GCHA Director Nick Watts said: “Responding to climate change could be the biggest global health opportunity of the 21st century. There are lots of things that … help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, that are also really good for public health.”


Download the full report, executive summary and policy briefings at: or


Other resources:

  • Webinar and virtual launch, “COP21 – Perspectives on how climate action can benefit health” featuring two of the main authors, hosted by GCHA member group the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). Download the recording and slides here.
  • Podcast: “Health and climate change: Communicating the latest Lancet report,” featuring lead author Nick Watts (GCHA), Benn Grover (HCWH), and Catherine Thomasson (Physicians for Social Responsibility), via Tree Alerts
  • Reddit Science AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the Lancet Commission on Public Health and Climate
  • Article: “Coal’s health threat,” by prominent UK doctors and health leaders
  • Download our infographics which summarise some of the report’s key messages:

Infographic illustrating the report’s key recommendations downloadable here
Infographic on the role of the health sector in mitigating climate change downloadable here